Mount Davidson/Ophir Hill
Place Name: Storey County
Place Description: State: Nevada
Elevation: 7,864 Feet
Prominence: 2,704 Feet
Elevation Gain: 1,802 Feet
Lists: Great Basin Peaks List, Nevada County High Points
My First Great Basin Peak List
Even with the Sierras still locked under snow, this 7,800 foot peak offered a nice challenge when very few other peaks of this elevation were available. This was a fun little jaunt up from Virginia City and allowed us to tag Ophir Hill on the way.
- Fun elevation gain
- Crazy amounts of butterflies
- Cool view from summit
- Mostly a road walk
- Lots of radio towers on the summits
- Pole line trail is very loose rock
With snow still piled high in the sierras and wanting actually get some altitude that you can’t find in the Bay Area peaks, we set off for Nevada. I have been researching the Great Basin Peak List and it’s 115 peaks and really want to start tackling it. The nice thing is there are quite a few that overlap with the Tahoe-Ogul List. After looking over the PB app, we decided to do a family trip to Virginia City and take down Mount Davidson and it’s 7,864 foot summit. I hadn’t been to this old mining town since I was probably 7 years old and now I was coming back with my 8-year old son and 6-year old daughter.
Davidson towers over Virginia City and is the highest point in Storey County. It’s the mountain with the big white “V” painted on it. We drove up the hill above the main town and parked in the signed area for hikers just below the water tanks. The four of us set off up the dirt road which was covered in running water from the snow melt from the drifts above for about the first 4/10 of a mile. At this point you meet a junction. Head left up the Pole Line Trail or right up the dirt road towards Ophir Hill. After reading a report, I decided to go the longer distance around and bag Ophir Hill. The Pole Line is more direct, but much steeper, I’ll get to that later. From this point the road narrows a bit and steepens, winding up and over the ridge. We rested for a bit along a big bend in the road about a mile up and then started the real heavy climbing towards Ophir. The summit of Ophir Hill has a giant radio tower but has great views of the sierras, Washoe Lake, and Reno. We could see the GSR, airport, and Rattlesnake Mountain which we hiked in March. It was 1.7 miles up to Ophir and 1300 feet of gain.
Once you get up here, the heavy climbing is done. We then followed the road back south along the high ridge line going up and down a few small bumps. We had a jeep pass us on the road up here. We then found a large snow patch and jumped off trail for a few minutes to toss some snowballs. Along the way, we watched a wild mustang following a dirt road below us to watering hole and made the climb over a bump on the ridge with some radio equipment and a small building. We kept along the road until it petered out into a small trail up through the rocks to the summit. Did not find a register or benchmark, but there were some cool carvings in the rocks and old rusted metal piping. Our total time up was 2:38 which was pretty good considering the little legs I had along side me. I also had to carry my daughter quite a bit.
On the descent, we got up to the bump with the radio house and decided to bee line down the mountain towards the pole line trail. This was pretty easy getting down as te brush was not very high and the dirt and rocks were hard packed. The Pole Line Trail was a different story though. This trail was very steep and very loose. I ended up carrying my little girl most of the way cause she couldn’t take two steps without falling on her butt. It is a much shorter descent, but I would not recommend using this to go up, it would have been rough.
We made it back down to the car in 1:21, totaling 4.7 total miles. It was a beautiful day, not a cloud in the sky, mid-70s. Flowers are blooming and butterflies are swarming. There are tons of cocoons full of caterpillars in he sage brush lower down the trail. Pretty cool to see. My first Great Basin Peak and Nevada County High Point is in the books. Couldn’t ask for anything more!